Is hunting a touchy subject with your family?
If you're reading this, odds are, you like to hunt. That said, just because you hunt, maybe not everyone in your extended family does. During the holiday season, there will be many gatherings across the world, with families getting together for possibly the only time of the year. How are you going to represent not only yourself, but hunters as a whole, when the topic of conversation turns to hunting?
Every holiday season for the past few years, I have been in this very situation. During Christmas, my own family gatherings are usually quite small, and everyone hunts. But, when I am at my girlfriend's family's Christmas, it is a bit of a different story. Every cousin, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, and random friend seems to attend their family affairs. And nobody hunts like I do.
There are a couple uncles in the group who go out every few years with a gun on opening day of deer season, and that's the extent of it. At first, most of the family thought I was off my rocker, and plain crazy for spending fifty plus days a year in a treestand, and they didn't understand why I would do that. Here is how I went about explaining what my passion was, and how I talked about hunting.
When you first bring up the topic, talk about why you enjoy hunting. I keep it clear that hunting is not killing. There is a significant difference. Hunting is not the sport of going out and simply killing animals; Ffr me, personally, I talk about my love of being out in the wilderness. I will talk about how I like to be in a tree for hours, and how all is not lost on days I don't see deer. I thoroughly enjoy the sunrises, the sunsets, and having animals so close to me.
Many times, family members will be in awe when I talk about raccoons that walk under my tree, or I show them a video of a deer licking the base of my stand. I will show family members pictures I have taken from the stand of an amazing sunrise, and how I would have never experienced that moment had I not loved to hunt.
Inevitably, when on the topic of hunting, the conversation always turns to killing animals. As much as I like everything else about hunting, at the end of the day, as hunters, we take the lives of animals.
Some people will never be able to wrap their heads around this. I take a bit of a different approach when explaining this to family members who have never killed an animal: what I like to do is talk about how much I respect animals I hunt. Many people truly don't realize that as hunters, we really do enjoy and respect the animals lives that we take.
I don't take killing any animal for granted. I understand how serious it is, and I drive that point home. When they understand where you are coming from, they can understand what we do just a little bit better.
After the Kill
Another topic I like to bring up is how much I enjoy preparing and cooking the meat that I get from an animal I have hunted and killed. It always surprises me when a family member asks if I even eat deer after killing them, or if I do it just for sport. I hardly ever buy any red meat from the grocery store. I've usually got a freezer full of venison.
I will even offer to bring some venison the next time there is a family gathering and cook some myself. There is nothing cooler than cooking venison for someone who has never had it (or having them tell you they want to hunt just so they can have more venison!).
Ultimately, when bringing up the topic of hunting, gauge your audience. The more sensitive it might be, the more carefully you'll have to go about it. The biggest thing I can stress is that if family members leave thinking that you kill animals for the sheer enjoyment of killing, you probably didn't go about it in the right way.